Retailers blamed for sugar prices
The leader of a sugar producers group blamed merchants and retailers for taking undue advantage of consumers and artificially elevating sugar prices which, he said, should be capped at P85 per kilo.
“Hindi naman dapat P100, P110, P120. Grabe na yan (It should not be sold for P100, P110, P120. That’s too much),” Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation, said in a radio interview.
“Local sugar is already in the markets. There’s also imported sugar, which is starting to come in. There is no more reason for such prices,” Lamata said. “Itong mga ito, sobra-sobra naman. Sobrang kita na yan. Ibaba niyo na (These people, that’s way too much. That’s excessive profit. Bring it down already)”
But Lamata was confident that retail sugar prices would return to P50 to P60 per kg level. “I think so. Supply and demand [are] what drives the market,” he said.
In terms of production, Lamata said six to seven sugar mills have produced more than 200,000 metric tons and sugar prices should further decline with the start of the harvest season.
Harvest already coming in
According to the Sugar Regulatory Administration, raw sugar production since the start of crop year 2022-2023 rose by 78.26 percent to 106,610 MT from 59,805 MT and total raw sugar supply was at 239,959 MT, which is lower than last year because of lower carry-over stocks.
Lamata said retailers may be using fuel prices as the excuse to charge excessive prices.
“I personally believe [traders] are basing everything on fuel. Traders increase their prices when the fuel prices are going up, but they do not implement a reduction when oil firms implement a price cut. The traders are taking advantage,” he said.
Lamata said his group has already prepared a resolution—recommending that prices be pegged at P75 to P85—which will be submitted to the government which earlier said that price caps may be imposed by November if sugar prices don’t come down to reasonable levels.
He also backed the government’s decision to implement a price cap, called suggested retail price, that will allow the Department of Trade and Industry to charge unscrupulous merchants and retailers with profiteering.
“I am very agreeable to ensure that consumers will benefit from lower sugar prices,” Lamata added.
Profiteering is punishable under Republic Act No. 7581, or The Price Act, and is defined as the sale of a basic necessity at prices “grossly in excess of its true worth.”
The Price Act also penalizes “hoarding,” or undue accumulation of any basic commodity beyond normal inventory or the unreasonable limitation or refusal to dispose, sell or distribute stocks of any basic necessity. INQ
DA eyes SRP for sugar as prices rise again
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